If you’ve seen Anubhav Sinha’s Tum Bin 2 you would know there is an entire episode devoted to a hero of Pakistani origin played by a very fine Indian theatre actor Ishwak Singh, earlier seen in small impressive parts in important films like Reema Kagti’s Talaash and Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh. Ishwak also played Deepika Padukone’s boyfriend in Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha.
Tum Bin 2 is Ishwak’s Big Bollywood Break and should have been positioned that way. Unfortunately for the actor, playing a Pakistan proved detrimental to his otherwise-pivotal part.
Given the current political scenario director Anubhav Sinha wisely decided to keep Ishwak’s role a secret.
Ishwak who’s a trained theatre actor thinks his Pakistani character needed to be kept discreetly out of the public eye. “Anubhav wanted to make a point in the film regarding Indian perceptions on Pakistan. If this angle was highlighted too much initially then from the storytellers’ perspective I feel the element of surprise would’ve gone missing. Not all Pakistanis are anti-India. In fact most of them are not. My character is not even a Muslim although he is a Pakistani. I think it came across quite well.”
Ishwak felt no apprehensions about playing a Pakistani. “I guess that’s where my theatre training comes in handy. I’ve been doing quite a lot of work on stage in Delhi. My back-story that I prepared for my character was all I was thinking about. While shooting for Tum Bin 2, I actually believed I was a Pakistani living in Scotland. I pretty much alienated myself from my own identity Ishwak, who at times I’d see as another person.”
While Ishwak’s role remained unaffected by the current Indo-Pak deadlock he admits a scene with political overtones was cut. “There was a scene where I speak of how my father, a Hindu engineer lost his life in a terrorist attack while working on a mosque in Pakistan that didn’t make it to the final cut.”
Ishwak looks so convincing as a Pakistani that he has been compared with Fawad Khan, “I was not aware of Fawad until the Pakistani ban in Bollywood. I’ve not seen his work on television or in cinema. I feel extremely humbled when someone appreciates my work, or when I’m told that I’m very good-looking. Yeah, I get that all the time and I never think about it. I feel blessed because good looks are something that’s God-given.”